Training camp is a time to see how players gel with others, a time to view player progression, and a time to assess stock. That last bit is especially true of guard James Carpenter. The 25 year old and 2011 first round draft selection out of Alabama has not lived up to that first round aura, playing like an average blocker at best. His several years as a Seattle Seahawk have been plagued by injuries and inconsistency, and as a result, the Seattle Seahawks have declined his exorbitant 2015 option, making 2014 a contract year for Carpenter. This upcoming season is a make-or-break one for Carpenter, and that is why he should capture fans’ attention in training camp.
Carpenter only shook off the injury bug last season while playing as part of a left guard platoon with now Cleveland Brown Paul McQuistan. He played in 18 games and started 12, but was inconsistent to say the least. As a result, he allowed Alvin Bailey to make a name for himself. He did show flashes of being an above average run blocker last season, and he even demonstrated a solid pass blocking ability. Offensive line coach Tom Cable has already praised Carpenter’s work this summer, citing confidence as the key for Carpenter’s success.
Left guard is his position to lose, and the fact that he’ll be flanked by Russell Okung and Max Unger should help his confidence level. Having two great linemen on either side would definitely make me feel better, at least. As long as he stays healthy, he should begin to grow as an NFL guard and make a case for some team, perhaps the Seahawks, to give him a shot next season.
I think Seattle’s declining of Carpenter’s 2015 option should really illuminate the situation for him. He should by now know that his past injuries (two knee surgeries and a concussion) and inconsistency have hurt his playing time and value in Seattle’s organization. Seattle’s front office, in declining his option, is sending a clear message to him. This year is his chance to prove that Seattle’s selecting him in the 2011 draft was not a mistake, and that he deserves to stick around.
I really think James Carpenter is worth the watch during training camp. Besides getting in better shape this summer (320-pound mark, which should help his agility on the line), he knows he’s got a lot to prove to the Seahawks. He could be one of the hardest workers during training camp this year, and that’s why I’m pegging him as the guy to watch in training camp.